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7-Step Checklist for Preventing Basement Leaks

Do you have a problem with water leaks in your basement? If so, you’re certainly not alone; it’s a fairly common problem. But it doesn’t have to be a problem. There are several steps you can take to eliminate the problem – or to keep the problem from ever occurring.


Here’s a checklist of 7 action steps you can follow for eliminating or preventing common causes of water leakage in your basement:

#1: Look for plumbing leaks

Check first to be sure that any leaks in your basement aren’t coming from your own plumbing. Check any areas where plumbing leaks are common: under sinks, behind refrigerators and dishwashers, bathroom plumbing.

But also take a look at outside plumbing, particularly around outside faucets. Slow leaks from outside faucets usually drip right onto the foundation, and are very likely to end up in the basement.

#2: Make sure guttering is clear and intact

Your gutter system is designed to carry water away from the house, assuring that runoff isn’t dumped right on top of the foundation. If obstacles – such as a build-up of leaves – or damage to the gutter prevent it from doing its job, water is likely to be dumped right at the foundation. And some of that water is almost certain to find its way into your basement.

#3: Check the sprinkler system

Do you have an outdoor sprinkler system? If so, check to see that none of the sprinkler heads are spraying directly onto your house during operation. If that’s happening, you’ll need to adjust or replace sprinkler heads.

#4: Overgrowth around foundation

Is there somewhat of a jungly mess growing around the foundation of your home? If so, that’s a bad thing.

The ideal situation is to have a zone around the perimeter of your foundation that is somewhat open, and not densely packed with foliage. That will allow sun and wind to keep the soil around your foundation from becoming waterlogged. And that will help immensely in reducing the likelihood of basement leaks.

#5: Check the lay of your land

Take a critical look at the landscape surrounding your home. Are there areas where water will naturally tend to flow toward your foundation instead of away from it? Those areas should be reworked to direct the flow of water generally away from the foundation.

Sometimes landscaping features such as raised flowerbeds can cause a problem if they’re located close to the foundation. And it’s also important to assure that paved areas close to the house are sloped to direct water away from the foundation. That includes driveways, sidewalks, and patios.

#6: Deck damage

If you have a wooden deck, you need to be sure that a plastic vapor barrier has been installed in the ground beneath the deck. Protected from sun and wind, the soil directly beneath decks tends to stay waterlogged for long periods. Without the protection of a vapor barrier, water is quite likely to migrate from the waterlogged zone into your basement.

#7: Outside caulking

Water that makes its way into your home through any exposed cracks or crevices will very likely eventually end up in the basement. That’s why it’s important to make regular periodic inspections of all areas of caulking in your home’s exterior. That includes checking the caulking around doors, windows, and all gas, water, and electrical lines entering the home. Also keep an eye out for cracks that may have developed in exterior brickwork.

Regular Checks Can Prevent Most Problems

The checks listed above won’t prevent basement leaks that result from extreme situations, such as rare, extended periods of torrential rainfall. But if you eliminate the most common causes represented in the list above, you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood of having to deal with basement leaks.

And since many of the sources of basement leaks can also be damaging to foundations over time, you’ll be saving yourself lots of headaches by being proactive in keeping your basement dry.

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 19th, 2015 at 10:20 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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